Lilly took the full amount of maternity leave allowed. She returned to work full time on a cold day in February. Konan was given a small desk in the far corner of the room, as it was the last one available. His corner was dark save for one small lamp. It was on, and in the dark she could make out his silhouette.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
Konan looked up from his computer screen and smiled.
“Well, looks who’s back. How are things? How’s Gareth?”
“He’s the sweetest kid ever. I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love him.”
Konan nodded and smiled. In the months they’d been separated, Lilly had reached out and talked to Konan. She had invited him over to see her and Gareth. Konan visited once. It was awkward for him to see her as ‘Mommy’ to a tiny human.
“What are you watching?”
“Uh, just video of the bodies when they’re discovered. There’s something there, but I can’t figure out what it is.”
“Let me get some coffee, and I’ll have a look.”
Lilly came back a mug of hot coffee in her hand and pulled up a chair next to him. She took a sip and looked at the screen.
“So, tell me what you’re thinking. Isn’t this case in the heap?”
“It is, but there’s nothing pressing. What bothers me the most about this case is that the killer stopped. They made it look like Jacob Walton was the killer, heck, the Deputy Chief even went on television and said he was. Still…”
“What did Walton die from? Did Tammy ever figure it out?”
“Yeah, she did. She cut his head open to figure it out, but she determined the cause of death.”
“Sharp object shoved into the ear canal. It was quick.”
“Yeah. You couldn’t see the blood because of the damage caused by the fire.”
“So, you’re thinking assassin?”
“Um, I don’t know. How did this guy or gal manage to dupe Jacob Walton into helping him?”
“You think there’s a mastermind behind the whole shebang? Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know, Lilly. Let’s say that Walton was an ‘assistant’, right? He did the things the killer couldn’t do, or wouldn’t do, such as make visible appearances, go to meetings, buy supplies, etc.”
“They have to pay their ‘assistant’, right? There’s no money trail. We checked Walton’s finances. He had two jobs. Yet, somehow, he managed to have one of the most expensive hobbies-train collecting.”
“So, you think the killer paid cash.”
“It would make sense. Walton was a minimalist. He had a nice house, a nice car, and a large collection of vintage trains. The house and car should’ve maxed out his finances, but somehow…”
“…he collected trains. You think there’s an invisible trail of money.”
“I think Jacob Walton had a third job that paid cash, and he worked for the killer. Then, the killer murdered him and walked away from the carnage they created.”
“So, why watch video of the discovery of the bodies?”
“Because serial killers like trophies. They relive their kills by collecting said trophies, yeah?”
“Nothing was taken from any of the victims, so how does the killer get their thrills?”
“Yeah. That’s what I’m thinking.”
“So, if the killer isn’t recording it, he has to have access to it somehow. Where would he find it?”
“What do you mean? Check out social media, specifically the ones that are only videos. Anything goes on those sites.”
“Nah man, if you want to watch a video of beheadings, you can find it. There are no less than fifty videos of the victim outside of the news company.”
“What a world…”
They watched the videos of the victims’ discovery. There was nothing out of place in the videos, but Konan felt he was missing something. Lilly sipped her coffee and watched the screen intently. Nothing stood out.
“I have a question, Konan. Why use proxies? Sure, it protects the killer’s anonymity, but wouldn’t it also leave them vulnerable?”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s say reconnaissance. The killer would need to know all the details, right? How would they do their scouting via proxy?”
“They wouldn’t. Each location would require scouting…”
“…and they would need to know ALL the details such as openings/closings, schedules of employees, etc.”
“We’re talking hundreds of hours of video, Lilly. But, if the killer is on there, we could generate a suspect list.”
“You said there was nothing pressing. Let’s get the tapes and set up shop in a quiet room.”
Lilly and Konan spent the next three days watching video. At hour #76, Lilly sat up.
“I see it. It’s a shadow outside of the news company. Someone is watching what happens. What’s that glint?”
“It’s a window. The killer is sitting in a truck. The window is cracked.”
“We need to get this to our expert. Maybe they can discern what type of vehicle it is, and maybe make out who the killer is.”
Andy Smythe came into the room and looked at the screen. He made a noise that was part grunt of frustration and what Konan hoped was part excitement.
“I’ll take it to the lab and see if I can’t clean it up some. The grill, what I can make of it, seems to belong to a late 90’s Tahoe. I’ll let you know what I find.”